Porn-star teacher first to be fast-tracked

20th February 2009 at 00:00
GTC deals with his case at private hearing, but new system is criticised for lack of transparency

A primary school teacher who starred in pornographic films has become the first to be punished by the General Teaching Council for England without undergoing a full hearing, it has emerged.

Andrew Beasley, a teacher at Ripple Junior School in Barking, east London, was allowed to return to the classroom with a reprimand after he admitted performing in "television programmes and films of a sexual nature" over a period of 15 months.

Mr Beasley is the first - and so far, the only - teacher to be dealt with by the GTC under a new system designed to make the hearing process more efficient.

But the move has been criticised for lacking transparency and operating behind "closed doors" because fewer details are made public.

Under the fast-track system, the cases are heard by the GTC in private sessions. The allegations and final decisions are still made public, but details that usually emerge in hearings are not published.

Margaret Morrissey of the lobby group Parents Outloud condemned the move for diluting the work of the GTC. "Parents need to be confident that there has been a full and frank hearing and that it has not been done behind closed doors," she said.

"If teachers don't want to go through the process, they shouldn't do anything wrong.

"To do children justice there should be no fast-track system."

Alan Meyrick, the GTC registrar, said the new system still meant that cases were dealt with "thoroughly and transparently".

"Decisions in these cases highlight how the committee has reached its decision based on a careful weighing of the evidence and contain the information that the committee feels is necessary in the public interest," he said.

The new system will only be used with teachers' agreement and when they fully admit the allegations against them.

Teaching unions welcomed its introduction when it was approved for use last September. The GTC has been criticised for the length of time it takes to deal with allegations, which can leave teachers in a state of professional limbo.

There are currently 118 teachers waiting for hearings to begin and a further 111 cases being investigated and awaiting a decision on whether they warrant disciplinary action.

In Mr Beasley's case, which was decided last month, a professional conduct committee ruled that he had brought teaching into disrepute and could have damaged the reputation of his school.

"We are particularly concerned that the films in which Mr Beasley acknowledges he appeared over a period of 15 months were publicly available and he was aware of this," the report said.

"Teachers have to accept responsibility for private behaviour that has the potential to bring the profession into disrepute."

Mr Beasley apologised for his behaviour, accepting that it was a "serious misjudgment" and said it would never be repeated.

He was given a reprimand that will remain on his file for two years.

Teachers surveyed

The General Teaching Council for England has commissioned a survey of teachers' views of the systems that hold them to account.

Teachers will be asked about their experience of the existing rules on accountability and whether they get adequate access to on-the-job training.

The responses from the 12,500 teachers will be used to help form the council's policy advice to the Government.

Questionnaires will be emailed next week and the deadline for responses is April 24.

Keith Bartley, GTC chief executive, said: "This is teachers' opportunity to help shape the future of accountability in education."

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